Are you searching for an interactive dinner? One where you’re not just idling around, waiting for your food and staring at the stranger two tables down who has a crumb stuck in his mustache? Great.
Are you also searching for a dinner where you can invite a large group of people so that there’s statistically zero chance you end up sitting next to… Cindy? Great.
One more question for you. Are you also craving meat? Like… A lot of meat? Wonderful! Well then, this list is for you.
We’re going to be diving into the best Korean BBQ in San Diego. If you’ve never been, then buckle up—and unbutton your belt—because this is a dining experience with a lively atmosphere and enough deliciousness to put you in a 3-day food coma.
To The Uninitiated: We’ve paired each restaurant with a tip for how to enjoy this meaty delicacy to the max. So, without further ado, consider this guide to the best Korean bbq in San Diego to be your own personal San Diego tour of delicious Asian food!
In terms of a dining experience, Taegukgi checks off all the right boxes. Upon arrival, give your name and party number to the host, then feel free to grab a drink and relax in their charming outside patio café as you wait. Fear not about bringing a large group of friends to this restaurant. Winner of “Best Restaurant for Big Groups” according to San Diego Magazine in both 2015 and 2017, this place knows how to accommodate a number of guests.
If you’re riding solo, feel free to eat at the bar and cheer on whatever sports team is playing on their giant screen consisting of 9 plasma screen TVs pieced together into one super TV.
All this without even mentioning the tasty food, which—surprise, surprise—is absolutely decadent.
- Accommodates birthdays, office parties, large groups
- All you can eat style
- Fun, lively environment
- Offers VIP private dining area
Location: 7655 Clairemont Mesa Blvd (Just off Convoy Street)
KBBQ Tip #1: Do Order Soju – When in Rome, you do as the Romans did. When at Korean BBQ, you drink Soju.
356 Korean BBQ
Located in the Westfield Mission Valley Mall, 356 KBBQ will have your mouth watering from the moment you park your car. With a lounge, sports bar, and restaurant dining area, this place is an all-in-one package. Plus, it competes with the legendary restaurants located around Convoy Street, and that’s no small feat.
- Perfect for dinner and shopping
- Plenty of tables for four, although they can accommodate more
- Watch sports and hang out with friends in this welcoming atmosphere
Location: 1640 Camino Del Rio N (in Westfield Valley Mall)
KBBQ Tip #2: Ask Your Server if They Flip the Meat – To flip the meat or not to flip the meat, Shakespeare’s hotly debated question. When at a KBBQ restaurant, the server will often throw the raw meat on the grill and then walk away. Are they coming back? Are you supposed to know when to flip? Is it hot in here or is it just you? If you’re unsure, always ask your server whether they’re in charge of cooking it or not. If you are in charge, see the next tip for when to flip the meat…
Dae Jang Keum Korean BBQ
Depending on the type of person you are, you may be deterred or intrigued by the following fact. DJK’s website consists of what looks like an early 2000s HTML with two separate pages that lead to nothing and a map that doesn’t even point you in the general direction. For being one of the most raved about Korean BBQ in San Diego, you’d think a website upgrade would be on the agenda.
Bah-humbug to that, they say. That’s what Yelp and Google Maps are for! Dae Jang Keum is located just off Convoy Street and should come with a Buyer Beware tag. It’s so delicious, so beware, you may spend every last dollar you have going back for dinner every single night.
The grill they use is charcoal-based, which many regard as true Korean BBQ, where the meat juices can drip down and later infuse as smoke into the meat—true meat-on-meat action.
- All you can eat style KBBQ
- Prices are a bit higher, but you’re sure to leave full
- Best enjoyed with intimate or medium-sized groups
Location: 7905 Engineer Road (Just off Convoy Street)
KBBQ Tip #3: When to Flip the Meat – The task has been bestowed upon you to flip the meat on the grill. Why you? Nobody is quite sure, but with great power comes great responsibility. So, here’s a tip. When the meat starts to sweat on the top, this is a sign that the underside is cooked. Don’t flip too frequently, or the insides will remain raw. Have patience, sweat (the meat, not you), then flip.
Located next to Eye World (no relation), this Korean BBQ joint does things a bit different than the other restaurants on this list. It’s an all-you-can-eat, choose-the-meat-yourself, sit-where-you’d-like restaurant. Get all that? Whether you desire a fun lunch with friends or a unique twist on date night ideas in San Diego, this is the place to go.
Jeong Won is a fun place to really sink your teeth into as many choices as Korean barbecue allows. Try new sides you’ve never eaten before, try meat dishes you’ve always deemed “maybe one day,” and drizzle on the sauce until the pool of sweet and sour is as it was in your dreams. With all of the options and the all-you-can-eat aspect, you might as well try everything on the menu!
However, one note about this place, because it is self-serve, wasting food is a big problem. So please, only take what you can eat.
- Perfect for first-time KBBQ-ers
- Come here solo or with a large group of people
- The restaurant is small, so try odd hours or call in advance
Location: 4690 Convoy Street
KBBQ Tip #4: Bring as Many People as Possible – Korean BBQ is a meal worth sharing. Often the menu is designed and priced with meats to share for the whole table. In this case, having more people at the table means you get to try more items.
Special Shout-Out to Convoy Street
Though LA is often seen to have the best Asian cuisine west of the Mississippi (okay, east of it too, let’s be real), it’s because most people haven’t been to Convoy Street. Convoy Street restaurants include a variety of pan-Asian restaurants along a small strip of road. Walking the sidewalks here, you’ll be hit by a combination of smells you can almost taste, a decadent cloud of salty, crispy, freshness that’s hard to truly put a title on, except, of course, Convoy Street.
Most of the best Korean barbecue in San Diego will be located here. Most of the best any Asian cuisine will be located here. You can find some of the best sushi in San Diego as well as some of the best ramen spots in San Diego on this street. For some darn good food and a fun dining experience, take a quick wok (get it?) down Convoy Street and your nose will beckon you in the right direction.
San Diego Magazine. San Diego’s Best Restaurants 2017. https://www.sandiegomagazine.com/San-Diego-Magazine/June-2017/San-Diegos-Best-Restaurants-2017/0